To answer this question on what people prefer. We need look no further tha New Orleans for the answer. The Natchez is a STEAMboat and operates daily. It competes with the Creole Queen a very nice paddlewheel diesel boat. If I remember correct the Natchez is more expensive to ride (but what a ride). There is no shortage of ridership even at the higher price. They still offer top billing for drinks food and entertainment. So a true STEAMboat can profit with a non steamboat just as nice.